The former Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection, and Executive Director of Henry Djaba Memorial Foundation Madam Otiko Afisah Djaba has penned an emotional letter to mothers as they observed Mother’s Day.
She asked them to continue their good motherhood journey of life and raise their children with well-equipped life skills for them to be confident and happy citizens.
Below is her full statement
“MOTHERS DAY STATEMENT AT GBC LADIES ASSOCIATION PROGRAMME BY DR OTIKO AFISAH DJABA ON 5TH MAY 2022
The process of being a mother, getting pregnant and becoming the vessel of creation of all mankind is of central importance, powerful and remarkable because it is the beginning of life, starting a family, community and nationhood. Motherhood is miraculous and it gives me enormous pleasure to join Ghanaians to celebrate mothers. Without mothers, there would be no life and that is why we must not undervalue or underestimate the role of a mother. Mothers are incredible and I feel privileged and blessed for becoming a proud mother of 4 children who are my number one accomplishment, and my biggest achievement. On this special occasion, I want to appreciate and congratulate ALL mothers. “Wo ni mame a dua”, borrow bi, a na kope bi “(to wit, if you don’t have a mom, sorry, borrow one or look for one”0. Please give your mom a hug for being amazing and say “thank you”.
It is not easy to be a mother because there is no manual, no school or rehearsal for preparing one for motherhood and yet mothers achieve amazing feats as a beacon of hope for their children, who is on duty 24/7, the backbone, washing machine, financier, escort, companion, friend, supporter, motivator, advisor, the one who wipes away the tears, makes her children laugh and feel good, the engine of growth and their inspiration. Indeed, a good mother is worth celebrating because she is a miracle, an angel who is able to meet all these expectations. As I observe the Ghanaian mother, I respect her, against the odds she is inspirational, extraordinary, marvellous, unique, remarkable, wise and loving – Ayeekoo! Ayeekooo! Ayeekoo!!!
As we honour and celebrate mothers today, I want us to ask the following questions: who is a mother? Is a mother only a female who gives birth to a child? Is a woman who adopts a child not a mother? Is a stepmother not a mother to her husband’s children? Is a woman who did not biologically give birth but cares for and raises other people’s children not a mother? Do you know how to be a good mother? Do your children and husband think that you are a good mother? How well do you know your child? Do you know how to balance your career and profession with the performance of your duties as a mother? Does your career, trade or profession make you a bad mother? Why are there bad mothers? Is a bad mother not a mother? Why are children giving birth to children? Is it easy to be a good mother? Are you the inspiration to your children?
Motherhood is the greatest thing and yet the hardest to accomplish. It begins even before the child is born; right from pregnancy and the responsibility of taking care of yourself and the life growing inside you for nine months and giving birth at the risk of losing your life. Bringing up the child well, and instilling the right principles and life skills for it to be a responsible human being is the real test of motherhood. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. A Mother has the thankless responsibility of being the lifetime unpaid trainer of her children as she magically provides for their needs. A mother from the first day of a child’s life must accept their child as a blessing and not an inconvenience, a problem or a burden. To raise a child requires selflessness, sacrifice, tolerance, patience, commitment, dedication and tons of unconditional love. Let us train our children to understand our culture and traditions, to speak our mother tongue and to be proud to be Ghanaians.
Today’s mother, the professional mother and the illiterate mother are faced with many competing needs; of getting educated, marriage, the biological clock ticking, a demanding job, promotions against child-rearing, television, the internet, migration from our hometowns, peer pressure, wifely duties and social media. It’s like you are juggling too many things, always fighting for time. One duty suffers and you will feel guilty and berate yourself when you fail at either one. Ladies, learn to multitask, to be a great teacher and to be a good manager of your child, your home and your work. You have to teach yourself to be a role model, setting a great example for your children to follow while balancing your career with motherhood. To achieve this you must build your capacity in terms of knowledge of your child, common sense, being intuitive to smell trouble, friendships, family support, improve your education, profession and other skills, by practice and experience. Being a mother is not just about sacrifices, suffering and challenges. It does not mean you should be miserable over your struggles, burdens and responsibilities of motherhood. It is your time to be a mother and you must learn to get it right, otherwise, life could be destroyed. You must invest in your happiness because when you are unhappy, you are unlikely to focus on your children. Being a mother does not mean that you are inhuman or perfect. Let your children know that you bleed, get tired, worry, cry and make mistakes. Children and husbands must also be there for mothers, accept them unconditionally and provide a support mechanism for them. Children don’t fail your mothers, and mothers don’t fail your children. I encourage all mothers to make a serious effort and commitment to happy yourself. Remember, you don’t stop being you because you are a mother. Children are to bring you joy and not to make you miserable. Raise your children to learn how to be responsible for themselves and for you, to be supportive of you, to take care of you when you are sick, tired, old or incapable and to know how to make you happy. Create a “ME time” with your children and a “ME time” for yourself. Take time off your busy schedule to enjoy your children and to be happy – like watching a movie with them, going out to places you like, doing things together like reading, cooking, exercising, shopping, reading, listening to music, playing games, dancing and just having fun. Motherhood should not be a burden for the working mother but a blessing and a shared experience. I beg pamper yourself, happy yourself wai! And children happy your mothers.
Busy mothers, especially working mothers like yourselves must make time to know, talk to and listen to their children so that you can better understand them, and be there for them. Make it easy for your children to find it easy to talk to you. Are you an absentee mother? Or are you a part-time mother? Are you using your job as an excuse to pass on your role as a mother to house help, nanny, or extra class teacher or is some relative now performing your motherly duties? Don’t mind the side chicks. Do you know what your children are watching and learning from television and the internet? Who are your child’s friends and what are they learning from their friends and peers? My daughter once told me that she did not ask to be born and that made me sit up and realise that no child has ever asked to be born. So when you choose to bring a child into this world, don’t make up excuses for your absence, negligence, abandoning your child or rejecting it. These negatives can impact a child negatively for life. Busy mothers must prioritize and make quality time for their children to instil in them values, integrity, discipline, cleanliness, personal hygiene, important customs and traditions, respect, confidence, teamwork, conflict resolution, sharing and dignity. Childhood is so short and children grow up so fast in the twinkle of an eye they are adults and you ask yourself where the years have flown by. Ladies of GBC, this is your time to stand up and be counted as a good mother. By all means, chase your dreams, but not at the expense of your children. It is not good enough to give birth to a child and then to watch it destroyed. Choosing to be a mother is a humongous responsibility. You shouldn’t abandon a child or take a holiday from being a mum. You don’t get to take a holiday from being a mum, vacate your post as a mum, retire as a mum and don’t expect a pay or a pension for being a mum. Being a mother is your time to be there for your children, dream big and good dreams for your children, grow with them to fulfil their dreams and goals, spend quality time and soar with your children. Be a star by making your children proud of you because you are their mother, their inspiration.
Children need a mother who wants the best for her children. A mother who pours her soul, life, much time, love and inspiration into her child, is just what the doctors prescribe. “A mother’s love is unlike any other, it is special”. But let me ask you, don’t mothers also need children who will love them unconditionally and look out for their best interest? Children, don’t be selfish or wicked towards your mother. Don’t take your mother’s love for granted. Show your mother some appreciation and love; let her know how much she means to you. Shower her with love, visits, kindness, thoughtfulness, patience, make time for her, and give her useful gifts. Remember that a mother’s love is unconditional; mothers have enormous amounts of love for their children. So children treat your mothers well. “There is nothing as powerful as a mother’s love and nothing as healing as a child’s love and smile”. When you advise “Kobi” you also advise momoni”. Mothers too should not take their children for granted. No matter your age, you will always need your mother and mothers will always need their children. Imagine what the world would be like without mothers or without children. Children honour and revere your mother and father. The things mothers can do for love nobody else can do.
The good mother must be the voice of reason and speaker of wisdom. ”She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” to quote Proverbs 31:26. She must exude strength and confidence to inspire even when she is afraid, failing, weak and tired. How many mothers have been dead broke, in debt, or gone hungry while their children ate? How many mothers have sold their clothes, land and jewellery to put food on the table or educate children? Children, give a mother a break, give her something to be happy about, give her joy, give the rewards she has earned and praise her for her handiwork in bringing you up. Mothers deserve to be celebrated. Proverbs 31:28-29
Mothers DON’T be afraid to discipline your children. Being a good and loving mother does not mean you should not discipline your child. Spare the rod and spoil your child and you will cry buckets of tears. Be loving and fair but firm with your children, to do this mothers need to have a hard head and a soft heart. However, disciplining your children is not a license to go overboard or to abuse your child. When a child does something wrong, offends you, lies or steals and you punish them by putting their hand in boiling soup or oil, a child wets the bed and you pour boiling hot water on the child, a child goes out without your permission and you cane the child mercilessly or to death, that is child abuse and criminal. Protect your children from all forms of abuse. Extreme discipline can push some children to do their worse or misbehave even more. Mothers must find the balance in disciplining children and training them to be responsible. Strive for a balance where you are not too strict or too lenient. Your children should not take advantage of your leniency or mistake your love for weakness. A school of thought says that we are spoiling and doing too much for our children these days? Some children do not do any house chores as we have house helps, and some have cooks so how will these children learn how to cook, these city kids don’t go to the farm. Some parents work hard to foot all the educational bills and build, and buy houses and cars for their children and other personal belongings. So what will these children do for themselves or their mothers? One child told me not to worry because they will soon have robots to do all the chores in the near future.
Many women do many noble things, but the noblest is being a good mother who inspires her children. Let’s celebrate single mothers, mothers with disability and mothers with children with disability or special needs who have double responsibilities. The single mom is the father and mother rolled into one. The mother with a child with a disability must learn to cope with the special needs of the child. There are also women, who are not able to give birth or are not the biological mother, but they bring up other people’s children well – these women must be commended. They deserve special recognition of love and appreciation from the children they bring up. These mothers must also commit to loving and treating the children well. On this special day we must also celebrate mothers who are sick and those who have passed on. Please can we say a prayer and observe 1-minute silence for mothers who have passed on.
What is your relationship with your children? What is your relationship with your mother? Try to relate well with your children, especially as they grow older into adults. For the relationship you had when they were babies, children and teenagers change when they become independent adults, with their own lives and families. You must provide emotional support for your children at all the different stages of their development and growth by being a great mum through thick and thin. A good mother must continue the journey of life and the determination to raise your children with well-equipped life skills to be confident and happy citizens. Mothers I charge you to be strong and wise mothers who raise stronger and wiser children. Show some love to each other and connect as a demonstration of your love and renew your promise to be the best mum that you can be, the super mum. Be a lifetime miracle, the beacon of hope, a superheroine, the source of joy and happiness to your children and yourself. Mothers be the inspiration for your children. Hip Hip Hip Hurray to all good mothers. Happy Happy Mothers Day. Long live mothers! Long live Children!”
Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1 MHz|Moses Apiah|Bolgatanga|Ghana